The Literature of Travel in the Japanese Rediscovery of China, 1862-1945

By Joshua A. Fogel | Go to book overview

EIGHT
Businessmen and the Military

Military men, such as Sone Toshitora, were among the earliest voyagers to China after the end of the ban on foreign travel in the early 1860s. A large number of them traveled on the mainland, particularly as the period under study progressed, and a few of them published accounts of their trips. Many others undoubtedly submitted reports for the eyes of their superiors only. However, in their capacities as officers in the Japanese armed forces, relatively few published travel accounts of China for a larger reading public in Japan. Many of the thousands of common Japanese soldiers wrote their own diaries, which have, unfortunately, disappeared since the end of World War II.

Travel narratives of China by Japanese businessmen and those in related lines of work form a surprisingly large group of books, sufficient to permit generalizations about the group as a whole. They appeared as early as the last years of the Qing dynasty--excepting, of course, the 1862 Senzaimaru voyage, whose overall intent was to investigate business conditions in China--and continued right into the middle years of World War II. Even more surprising, though, is what these men of commerce had to say, when they allowed themselves the luxury of personal commentary.

Before the world of East Asia was overcome by full-fledged war between China and Japan, there existed a confluence of concerns, as reflected in their travelogues, between businessmen and those in the military. Sino-Japanese friendship remained uppermost in the minds of both groups, at least until the early 1930s. Both considered amicable relations and mutual understanding between China and Japan essential to the interests of both countries. The last thing businessmen wanted was for Japan to force its will on a recalcitrant China, even for commercial gain, because genuine lasting commercial inter-

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